Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 18, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Late last season, the UCLA Bruins lost to the Stanford Cardinal twice in six days. The second meeting was in the Pac 12 Championship game that was played on Stanford’s home field…and the Bruins almost scored a major upset in a 27-24 loss. Can they break through NOW, facing the same team for the third time in their last eight games?
Many indicators are saying YES! UCLA is a better team this year than they were last year given returning experience and familiarity with head coach Jim Mora’s system. They are currently 5-0 in the new season, passing tough road tests at Nebraska and Utah. Stanford is arguably just as good this year as last…but they’ve been worn down by a very tough schedule that won’t let up until there’s a bye week before their much anticipated meeting with Oregon on Thursday November 11.
Let’s quickly review what both teams have done so far this season…because the nature of those schedules is what sets up UCLA to possibly score a statement victory in the marquee TV game of Saturday afternoon…
UCLA (-21) beat Nevada 58-20 (winning yardage 647-353)
UCLA (+4) won at Nebraska 41-21 (losing yardage 504-331)
UCLA (-42) beat New Mexico State 59-13 (winning yardage 692-333)
UCLA (-5) won at Utah 34-27 (winning yardage 404-387)
UCLA (-24) beat California 37-10 (winning yardage 488-320)
In that sequence you see two impressive road victories against teams who know what they’re doing. Nebraska is one of the top teams in the Big 10. Utah is so good they just beat Stanford on that same field last week! So, we have a UCLA team that isn’t afraid to play anywhere, anytime. Remember that Nebraska was a bad body clock game with the equivalent of a 9 a.m. kickoff for the Bruins players.
Perhaps most importantly, we also see a virtual bye last week against a horrible California team. Even though it was a win and a cover, you could tell UCLA wasn’t going at full speed and concentration if you watched. They would have made a run at 550-600 total yards if that were the case against a very bad Cal defense.
In short…UCLA is PROVEN and READY.
Stanford (-24) beat San Jose State 34-13 (winning yardage 404-251)
Stanford (-30) won at Army 34-20 (winning yardage 408-333)
Stanford (-6) beat Arizona State 42-28 (losing yardage 391-417)
Stanford (-10) won at Washington State 55-17 (winning yardage 560-373)
Stanford (-9) beat Washington 31-28 (losing yardage 279-489)
Stanford (-9) lost at Utah 27-21 (losing yardage 389-410)
Stanford, on the other hand, is worn down from a string of games that required peak focus. After a disinterested struggle at Army (that created travel fatigue if nothing else), the Cardinal was sky high for its Pac 12 opener vs. Arizona State, as well as a challenge up north where many pundits were suggesting they’d struggle against Washington State. You see the absolutely horrible stats the next week against Washington in a game they were lucky to win. Last week, not so lucky against fired up Utah.
Stanford is 5-1 straight up, but would only be 3-3 if wins were based on yardage. This is not a team that has a lot of athletic depth…which became clear the last two weeks. If they’re STILL tired, then they will have big trouble beating UCLA straight up let alone covering the spread. But, if last week was the low point…then Stanford is in a great bounce-back position against a team that doesn’t scare them much given last year’s results.
Current Vegas Line: Stanford by 6, total of 53.5
The market is giving Stanford credit for being the better team (which is still debatable), and for having some bounce-back mojo going in their favor. Handicappers must determine of the Cardinal re-filled their gas tanks emotionally after last week’s loss…or if this year’s schedule was just too big a bite to chew for an academic institution that is still figuring out how to recruit depth in addition to brainy frontline talent.
JIM HURLEY has definitely had his eye on this game all week. But, there are SEVERAL big play possibilities on the Saturday card. Clients will get the very best options Saturday morning before the early games kick off. You can purchase those right here at the website with your credit card. Or, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you tomorrow to preview the HUGE Florida State/Clemson game in prime time that everyone’s been talking about all week. Then, it’s back to the NFL Sunday and Monday for the prime time TV features in the pros.
Find key information for handicapping the games yourself right here in the NOTEBOOK. And, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!